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Lucire: Fashion
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Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku A new commercial site, home to international and domestic brands

Harajuku makes its move to the next level

Yuka Murai gives an in-depth look at the Harajuku fashion movement, which has spawned a number of events that have been driven by people, rather than big brands

 


Harajuku first gained its popularity with the help of American singer, Gwen Stefani, and her solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby back in 2004. Since then Harajuku-related fashion lines, accessories, and fragrances came to the mainstream market and are available to consumers in the United States today.

Harajuku originally referred to the train station and shopping district in Tokyo, and has become the capital of unique street fashion and lifestyle in Japan. The rest of the world seems to focus on high fashion rather than street fashion, but Japan is the opposite: it has a greater focus on street and casual style, successfully establishing itself as a subculture category. As a result, Japan’s high fashion scene has been overwhelmed by the millennials’ street fashion trend.

The Harajuku shopping district is where young people socialize and dress in a variety of styles including cosplays, gothic–Lolita, visual–kei, and others. The district is adjacent to the Meiji Shrine, which is one of the local landmarks dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

Three main streets in Harajuku area cross each other, and help navigating visitors to the each shopping areas; Takeshita, Meiji, and Omotesando Streets. Takeshita Street has become well known for the landmark of Harajuku fashion. It is the main street where young people who dress up with their own “statement”, and mainly hang out with others. They also hunt for new wearers. You will find gothic–Lolita wear, American casual wear, Japanese girls’ school uniforms—pretty much any street clothing you can think of.

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Takeshita Street. Photographed via Creative Commons by Carlitos.

Meiji Street, which connects all three major shopping districts—Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya—attracts the world’s largest fast fashion businesses like H&M, Forever 21, and Uniqlo. Laforet Harajuku, the iconic landmark known as a cutting-edge department store, stands near the corner of Meiji and Omotensando Streets. It is also the hub of Tokyo’s street and casual fashion. It stores big name foreign retailers like Kitson, Joyrich and Topshop, as well as Japanese casual brands such as Fur Fur, Super Lovers, and gothic–Lolita brand H. Naoto.

On the other side of where these three streets intersect, a new commercial site called Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku opened its door this April. American Eagle’s first store in Japan resides within. Tommy Hilfiger set up its flagship store at this site as well. On the top, seventh floor, the world-famous breakfast restaurant from Sydney, Bill’s, came in to treat hungry shoppers. Not only are foreign brands getting their spotlight here in Tokyu Plaza, but Japanese women’s casual brands such as Moussy, Sly, Enfold, and Avan Lilly, attracting young shoppers to the source of the latest fashion trends.

Omotesando Street, on the other hand, attracts foreign high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Emporio Armani, Ralph Lauren and more. Omotesando Hills, with six storeys above the ground and six underground, is another commercial site on the street. Opened 2006, it features approximately 100 shops and restaurants, including Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, and Yves Saint Laurent.

What makes the Harajuku district unique is that history, tradition, western culture and luxury urban style all mix together to create their own culture. Recently the district has been more active than ever, since Fashion’s Night Out Tokyo last November, where 17 Vogue editors, including Anna Wintour, gathered in Harajuku and Omotesando.

 

Events

The Harajuku Fashion Walk is spreading its name by a group of 50 girls and guys walking down the streets of Harajuku in their candy-coloured clothes. This walk event is held the fourth Sunday every other month. You often see both locals and tourists stop their feet and photograph this walk event, as if celebrities were passing. The Harajuku Fashion Walk was created not only to spread Harajuku’s freestyle fashion to the world, but also to support the young generation and provide a free environment for them to dress up in their own style. The event has been organically created by those who love and practise Harajuku style. Although there are many brands and celebrities who represent Harajuku fashion and culture these days, the Harajuku Fashion Walk promotes its fashion and culture by real people.

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Above Scenes from the Harajuku Fashion Walk. Below First Friday Harajuku.

 

Another event to check out if you happen to be in Harajuku is First Friday Harajuku. The event celebrates fashion, art, and music with variety of parties every first Friday of the month around Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku. Organizers hope that the event will be placed as a new hangout and celebration for fashionistas in Tokyo. It also aims to showcase the rapid integration of Harajuku fashion scene all over the world. This event only kicked off last month, but it already shows the possibility of becoming one of the go-to fashion events in Japan.

Harajuku definitely adopts the idea that every day is a runway day, and the street is your own runway show. When you are out in the district, you bring your best look every time. No one else styles you, and you bring your own statement. As a result, no one in Harajuku ever looks the same, because it has become the place where you feel comfortable with who you really are. •

 

Special thanks to: TokyoFashion.com, Harajuku Fashion Walk and First Friday Harajuku.

What makes the Harajuku district unique is that history, tradition, western culture and luxury urban style all mix together to create their own culture

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yuka Murai of YM Biz & Media is a correspondent for Lucire.

 

 

 

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